Complaints about psychiatrists
Psychiatrists who are members of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) in Australia and New Zealand must follow the highest standards of ethics and performance, including following the RANZCP's Code of Ethics.
If you are unhappy with the behaviour of a psychiatrist, or the standard of care you or someone else has received, you can make a complaint.
How to make a complaint
Speak to the psychiatrist or your GP about your concerns.
If you feel that you can't approach the psychiatrist directly, or if you're not satisfied with the psychiatrist's response:
In Australia (except NSW and Queensland)
- Contact your local health complaints commissioner, who is an independent and accessible ombudsman. The commissioners emphasise conciliation in resolving complaints between patients and providers.
- Alternatively, make a notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA is responsible for the regulation and accreditation of doctors in Australia. For instructions on how to make a notification, visit the AHPRA website. For assistance, call AHPRA on 1300 419 495 and ask to speak to a Notifications Officer.
- Lodge a complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). The HCCC acts to protect public health and safety by dealing with complaints about health service providers in NSW. For instructions on how to make a complaint, visit the HCCC website. For assistance, call HCCC on 1800 043 159.
- Lodge a complaint with the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO). The OHO aims to protect the health and safety of consumers and promote high standards in health service delivery by addressing complaints about health service providers in Queensland. For instructions about how to make a complaint, visit the OHO's website. For assistance, call the OHO on 133 646. The OHO may refer the complaint to AHPRA or manage the complaint itself.
In New Zealand
- Lodge a complaint with the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC). The HDC is responsible for protecting the rights of health consumers in New Zealand. For instructions on how to make a complaint, visit the HDC website. For assistance, call the HDC on 0800 11 22 33 and ask to speak to a Complaints Assessor
If you are concerned about how AHPRA handled a notification, you can contact the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner.
If you are concerned about how the HCCC handled a complaint, you can contact the New South Wales Ombudsman.
If you are concerned about how the OHO handled a complaint, you can contact the Queensland Ombudsman.
If you are concerned about how the HDC handled a complaint, you can contact the New Zealand Ombudsman.
What can the RANZCP do?
The RANZCP does not have the authority to investigate complaints it receives about psychiatrists.
Instead, we refer any complaints to the relevant organisation (see above).
However, if you would like to speak to the RANZCP about your complaint, please contact us:
1800 337 448 (free call from Australia)
0800 443 827 (free call from New Zealand)
Like all other health professionals, psychiatrists must be registered to practise.
You can check that a psychiatrist is registered:
- In Australia at the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website.
- In New Zealand at the Medical Council of New Zealand website.
In Australia, AHPRA works with the groups responsible for health complaints in each state and territory.
You may need to contact these organisations for particular types of complaints (for example about access to your health information).